Is Jesse Barfield right?

Jesse Barfield, former MLBer, is covering the Blue Jays these days.  Thanks to the miracle of the Internet, I learned today that he penned an article on the CBCnews website entitled “Trust, loyalty among teammates a thing of the past“.  Seems that he attributes the public nature to this PED mess to free agency and the lack of loyalty and familarity in today’s lockerrooms.  He hints that any PED usage would have been dealt with internally and not discussed outside the lockerroom of his era. 
 
I half-agree with him: PED use was not discussed outside the lockerroom during his era.  But why? Because we, the blissfully ignorant public, were blissfully unaware of the increasing numbers of players turning to the syringe for an edge.  The lack of focus on this issue kept the proliferation of PEDs to the shady backgrounds of lockerrooms and gyms.  The media coverage and scrutiny (thank you, Internet!) that’s part of today’s era shines a light on those shady areas that we previously left unexplored.
 
Turn the dial in the way-back machine to the 1950s and ’60’s and we find the Mantle/Ford/Martin extracurricular “exploits” charming, not scandalous.  The writers protected the stars they covered; today the writers (and there are a ton more, all with camera phones) look for any story they can run with.  Can’t blame the writers; they are doing their jobs (sell papers/advertising).
 
Back to Barfield.  He played from 1981-1992, right in the early stages of the steroid era.  Here is where I disagree with his claim that things would have been dealt with internally, self-policing if you will.  If self-policing were so effective, we would not be in the PED mess we’re in now. (Is that too pollyanna-ish? Perhaps.) Were there too few stand-up guys, leaders, men of conviction and character? Or was the allure of free agent contracts that made guys abandon their beliefs in search of generational wealth?  Regardless of the reason, the internal “kangaroo courts” failed to stem the steroid tide.
One thing you could always count on was what happened in the clubhouse, stayed in the clubhouse. But thanks to players who would rather make a name for themselves off the field rather than on the field, that is no longer the case.
So he seems to be condoning PED usage, until you get to the next paragraph:

Now, don’t think I condone the use of steroids, HGH, or any other drugs, but it was a code that we lived by from day one. And now teammates are selling each other out, and throwing each other under the bus. That is so sad to me.

That is PRECISELY how the steroids infiltrated MLB.  No one stood up, said something, screamed from the mountain tops, talked to the press, confided in MLB Union leadership, forced Union leaders to enact change. It’s long overdue to end the ostrich-head-in-the-sand routine. We, the fans, are demanding a level of transparency previously unseen in professional sports. It’s time to get it all out in the open.  Blood testing (even if stored for future testing when better methods are available) should be a given.  The money is there.  The time is now.

Continue reading Is Jesse Barfield right?

Adminstrative update: remote blogging

Due to an update in the web policy at work, it appears that all blogging, not just posting but also commenting to any blog, is now being blocked. Could be temporary, could be permanent. As of 2pm or so today, I noticed the change when trying to edit the last posting, unfortunately.

The good news is that I can post here via email. So, if you notice strange footers, you’ll know I emailed it from my yahoo.com account.

Thanks again for your viewership.

–Jason

Continue reading Adminstrative update: remote blogging

Great moments in screwing Kansas City

The Yanks have made a science out of screwing the Kansas City baseball clubs out of their stud players forever. Baseball-Reference.com’s TIBH section is always a great place to find interesting tidbits. Today’s entry has one more of the KC-NYY trades that forever helped the Yanks and screwed over the Royals/Athletics.

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Continue reading Great moments in screwing Kansas City

Sponsor a stadium for just under $250K per game

Looks like the Yanks are flexing their might again, this time doing so to help pay the bills. Seems that to be the Yanks top sponsor will cost some conglomerate upwards of $20 million per year. I can see the sales pitch:

Yanks Ad Sales rep: “Mr. CEO, you can virtually pay all of ARod’s deal yourself, and in return, we’ll plaster your logo all over the park and guarantee you a sweet new luxe box in the new Stadium. Parking included. Cost is averaging a smidge under $250,000 per home game, less if they make the playoffs!

Mr. CEO, after hesitating to ponder the impact his shareholders might have to bear: “Sign me up!

Good to be the 800 lb. gorilla sometimes. Continue reading Sponsor a stadium for just under $250K per game

Jeter's Inconvenient Truth

Even lifelong Yankee fans (like me) have to admit that Jeter’s defense, while sometimes “glamorous” (see: the jump-throws, “the Flip”, “the Dive”, etc.), is overrated. His range has been lacking for years and getting worse. Maybe we don’t see it because we don’t want to, but it’s real.

We knew ARod was a superior SS when we got him in 2004, but we allowed and accepted ARod’s deferral to 3B since “Cap’n Jetes”, as you Neyer-ophiles will recognize him as, was the face of the team. How dare someone, anyone, infringe on Jeter’s “territory”? Blasphemous.

With ARod at 3b, plus Garciaparra fading and injured, Tejada never really a gold glover either, and some-lesser know SS not gaining the cred fast enough, Jeter won 3 Gold Gloves, furthering the beliefs that he was a better SS than the numbers told us.

We’ve seen the discussions about Zone Rating, in fact, here’s a 2006 review of the SS Zone Ratings. Jeter rarely fares well using these new-fangled statistical reviews. Tough to see it, but at what point do the Yanks have to face this and start considering a position shift? ARod’s probably too big now and I am not sure Cano is a SS either. The politics behind moving Jeter are fierce. But, Mantle shifted to first base late his career, why not Jeter?

With a cap tip to Ballbug, we have yet another review of Jeter and SS’s:

Derek Jeter, the New York Yankees shortstop who is often hailed for his defensive prowess and has won three Gold Gloves, ranks dead last in the majors, coughing up 13.81 runs per season. Before the 2004 season, the Yankees traded for A-Rod and shifted him to third base in deferrence of Jeter, but based on these numbers, that move could be costing them 23 runs per season. Would the Yankees be better off with A-Rod at SS? Probably, but I’m a Red Sox fan, so I’ll keep quiet on this one.

What’s interesting about this article is one of their conclusions after discussing how good Troy Tulowitzki is and how seemingly below average his 3B partner (Atkins) is. It’s easy to bash Jeter but they give Atkins the pass this way:

Garret Atkins, the third baseman for the Rockies, recorded 41 fewer outs than was expected of him. But does that mean that Atkins is a bad fielder? The stats would say yes. But perhaps his coach is telling him to play near the line, putting him out of position of balls that are running through zones that third basemen are expected to cover and being gobbled up by Tulowitzki, who is being told to play a shade deeper to help cover Atkins’ ground. Such a strategy would artificially drop Atkins’ outs recorded while simultaneously increasing Tulowitzki’s, but, looking at the stats alone makes it difficult to say if this is the case.

Seems convenient that they can create an excuse for Atkins but not Jeter, but I’ll let it pass since the truth is Jeter’s D is eroding faster Brian Cashman’s hairline or Hank Steinbrenner’s patience.

An inconvenient truth? At what point do the Yanks have to seriously consider replacing Jeter at SS and moving him to 2B or 1B? You tell me. If the answer is now or next year, then with whom? Making things tough is that Jeter is the Captain, the face of the organization, of success, of what’s good about the game. We need to stop trying to hold onto the nostalgia when it’s detrimental to the team’s forward-looking success plans and make the moves that will prolong success. And that means developing a plan to reposition Jeter, with his support and blessing.

It’s time to start.

UPDATE: The guys at Pride of the Yankees followed up with some more Jeterriffic fielding data and discussion. Worth a gander. Continue reading Jeter's Inconvenient Truth

The time has come: Store blood tests

In the days since the Clemens/McNamee trainwreck, I was thinking how we can avoid this as we spin forward. How are the players of today and tomorrow going to prove they are playing clean? Gammons discussed this today, sort of. Buster Olney once proposed the storing of blood samples until a reasonable test is developed. The MLBPA has repeatedly shot this idea to smithereens.

I was checking up on some other stuff and I remembered that idea. Why aren’t we taking samples NOW for when there’s an appropriate test? Would there be a greater deterrent? Some quick checking around and I found this from a month ago (during the Selig/Fehr/Mitchell hearings), which I thought was interesting:
[World Anti-Doping Agency’s new president John] Fahey challenged baseball’s policy on human growth hormone. Baseball has pledged to adopt any validated urine test but does not test blood. Baseball said there is no commercially available validated test for HGH.

Equally reprehensible is their blatant disregard for the truth,” Fahey said. “Contrary to what they have told Congress this week, there is a reliable test for HGH; the storing of blood is practical, in fact has been effectively in practice for some time in World Anti-Doping Code-compliant testing.

The WADA statement said commercial kits for HGH blood testing are in development and that it offered to host a meeting between MLB and WADA experts. WADA also said baseball should store blood and serum, which might contain HGH that is more stable, for future testing.

[Rob Manfred, MLB’s executive vice president for labor relations] pointed out that Fahey said an HGH blood test for commercial use is only in the process of being created.

Now, I know these two sides (the Union and WADA) don’t trust each other any more than Clemens and McNamee, but what’s the harm in collecting samples until there’s a test? If for no other reason than as a deterrent. Tell ya what, if I was a player on HGH and they started storing blood/serum, I’d stop instantly.

I don’t want to hear the cost of testing since MLB is now a $6B business. The cost can be borne by every team. Thirty teams x 25 players x one test per month x $50 test (estimate) = $450,000. And of that estimate is off by a lot (say it’s $200/test, 4x higher), the cost is still less than $2M. Seems like an awfully small amount to pay for integrity, no? Considering that MLB paid approx. $20M (10x my higher cost estimate!) to Mitchell for his report, that seems darn reasonable. Now, that estimate is for only players on MLB clubs and therefore inherently understated, but so what? Again, if we say it will cost $5M/year to test all MLB players once a month, all year, that STILL seems reasonable. In other words, at $5M/year to test everyone for HGH, each team pays less than $170K. Really, what’s the hold up? The Union? Probably, but it’s time to change directions, for the good of the game.

It’s an idea who’s time has come. Integrity has a cost and a value. Baseball has lost a good degree of it’s integrity over the last 20 years. It’s time to get it back.

Continue reading The time has come: Store blood tests

And now, the focus shifts

I’m doing my best to turn my sights from Congressional hearings, depositions and affidavits to the greatly anticipated (and quite frankly, needed) Spring Training. We’re seeing lots of previews and such but I wanted to point out Jayson Stark’s latest, which is worth a read. What Jayson does well is polling insider baseball men to get their views. It’s a good way to gauge what the insiders are looking at or concerned about.

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Continue reading And now, the focus shifts

P&C report: let the smarminess begin

Now that Pitchers and Catchers are reporting, mercifully, we can all revel in the smarmy comments from the beat writers. Joel Sherman brought his A-game today. To wit:

Phil Hughes has been relocated from the outer edges of the Legends Field home clubhouse to the main pitchers row, stationed between Andy Pettitte and Carl Pavano. So Hughes is now sandwiched by HGH and HMO.
—–
For Pavano remains as dependable as Brian McNamee’s friendship. He is readying for another season of stationary bikes, long toss and cashing huge paychecks. Pavano has about the same likelihood of pitching for the Yankees this season as Whitey Ford.

Thank goodness we can now get laughing at all of this stuff, particularly anything Pavano-related. I couldn’t be happier.

I’ll add more as I find them. Continue reading P&C report: let the smarminess begin